Current News

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Internal Revenue Service’s battle against fraud and identity theft is intensifying as the tax filing season opens, and some of the neediest taxpayers are getting caught in the middle.

The agency is barred from issuing refunds before Feb. 15 on any returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Congress mandated the delay to give the IRS more time to review returns to try to catch fraudulent ones before refunds are paid out.

In reality, taxpayers taking these credits will probably have to wait even longer to get their refunds – until the week of Feb. 27, the IRS says, because of weekends and the President’s Day holiday.

PHOENIX (AP) – A federal judge has dismissed an advocacy group’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a federal law on placements of Native American children removed from their parents’ custody.

The suit filed in 2015 by the Goldwater Institute contended that the Indian Child Welfare Act is discriminatory.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The company building the Dakota Access pipeline says the project remains on track to start moving oil this week despite recent “coordinated physical attacks” along the line.

The brief court filing late Monday from Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners didn’t detail the attacks, but said they “pose threats to life, physical safety and the environment.”

The filing cited those threats for redacting most of the 21/2-page report. A spokeswoman and an attorney for the company didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions from The Associated Press.

Two American Indian tribes have battled the $3.8 billion pipeline in court for months, arguing it’s a threat to water. The company has said the pipeline will be safe.

When complete, the pipeline will move oil from North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois.

 

PAWHUSKA, Okla. - The Osage Nation has voted to change the definition of marriage in an election that drew an overwhelming number of absentee ballots.

The tribe will now define marriage as a union between “two persons” rather than “a man and a woman.”

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) – The Washington state Supreme Court says members of the Yakama Nation can have wholesale fuel delivered to the reservation without being taxed by the state.

Thursday’s decision upholds an earlier one in Yakama Nation’s treaty with the U.S. government.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Supremelegislature’s effort to compensate people involuntarily sterilized by the state decades ago unconstitutionally denies compensation to victims already dead when the law took effect.

About 7,600 people in the state deemed “feeble-minded” or otherwise undesirable were sterilized between 1929 and 1974. Payments of $35,000 each have been made to about 200 people or their estates from a $10 million pool set up by the General Assembly.

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Elected officials and tribal leaders helped Friday to power up a sun-to-electricity array that, in 2012, was the first utility-scale power production plant approved by the U.S. Interior Department on Indian land.

The 250 megawatts generated at the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, about 30 miles north of Las Vegas, will go to Los Angeles, where it could power 111,000 homes, said Georges Antoun, an executive with project owner First Solar Inc.

Tribal chairman Darren Daboda said in a statement that the first-of-its-kind project shows that even small tribes can benefit from commercial renewable energy projects.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) – After failing to win support for an increased wine tax last month, the governor’s office returned to lawmakers on Friday to pitch a revenue-raising plan that would broaden the request to include beer and spirits.

It’s unclear how much more consumers would have to pay for a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer because the tax would be charged on producers or retailers, not directly on consumers as a sales tax.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) – A committee focused on helping the Los Alamos School Board help the district’s Native American population succeed academically will scale back its requests in light of decreases in state funding.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that School Board President Jenny McCumber said at a presentation Tuesday that there’s little the district can do with such a small budget.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Lindsay Robertson started his law career working on business development. He was familiar with laws regarding tribal sovereignty, but he was asked to combine the two areas starting in 1987.

On Feb. 25, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians in its lawsuit with the state of California. The decision ultimately allowed tribes to have gaming operations, even where states were given criminal jurisdiction over Indian tribes, The Journal Record reported.